“I dislike the word ‘craft,’ when we talk of poetry. ’Craft’ suggest an inanimate object, as when we say a carpenter crafts a chest of drawers. But somebody’s already made the wood. So therefore, thinking of it … my idea is this: perhaps making the poem from the beginning involves three separate areas of experience. The first experience … is interior. When the poet realizes for the first time … when he touches for the first time, something far inside of him. It’s connected with what the ancients called The Mysteries, and it’s wrong to talk of it very much. Some poets have the experience very early. Wordsworth said that he had experienced it when he was seven or eight years old. And others when they’re fifteen, sixteen, seventeen. Whitman, interestingly enough, did not have this experience until he was about thirty-seven years old. Before that, he was writing merely well-crafted newspaper verse. Then, when he touched another center inside—or when he—or you can use the metaphor of finding a well if you want—or you could talk of it as breaking through an ego wall but I don’t think it’s as useful—if any person comes near that experience he or she will never forget it the rest of his [or her] life. If he [or she] writes poetry it will come from that … You can talk of that as an experience. We could call this stage wholly interior.”
—Robert Bly, from his “Craft Interview” which was conducted in the Spring, 1972, and appears in Talking All Morning (University of Michigan Press, 1990), Poets on Poetry Series.
*Note: To be continued with descriptions of poetry writing’s second and three stages of experience.
Thank you, apoetreflects.